Technology Continuum

27 May

I get so irritated by the digital native/digital immigrant dichotomy–especially when the dichotomy is associated purely with the year one was born.  There are times when talking about large groups and generations in broad terms is useful, but in this particular case I find the concepts used more as an excuse for using or not using technology on a small group level, and that is not so helpful.  

The image below is a particularly egregious example of the common definition of the two separate worlds of the digital immigrant and digital native. Of course the central image for the digital immigrant is a cartoon of a grandmother and a young boy for digital native; nothing in between. 


Ironically I found this image on a blog post that includes the following statement “I personally believe I am a digital immigrant but according to the age brackets for digital native I have fallen in that bracket which I am surprised by as I am quite technological illiterate although I am improving with the help of this subject. I hope to become more technologically fluent as I use technology more.”  This is part of the danger of this dichotomy, that people apply the terms even when they don’t feel true to their own experience.

Rather than a dichotomy, I prefer to think of people being on a continuum regarding their interaction with technology and I see technology as a set of tools. A person’s location on the continuum is determined by their experiences in life and the technology tools they come into contact with and find use for.  Think of a technology tool you use now and what led you to adopt it.  How did that happen?  Was it based on your age or on access and what your friends/colleagues were doing?

I like what Douglas Adams had to say in his essay How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet”. I always like Douglas Adams had to say.  Admittedly I’m glossing over his use of “invented” and instead choosing to interpret his meaning to be when one first experienced things.  

“1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.”

Where are you on the continuum?  Why?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: